Ian Kiaer- Endless house- thought models for dwelling

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Ian Kiaer makes work about making work. He makes paintings which directly respond to Malevich’s black square as the death of painting. He makes sculptures and installations which evoke the poises of non-making versus the praxis of making. Thinking space is offered in abundance.
In a humble and unassuming manner he presented his career path, with works also becoming progressively less prescriptive. This quiet humility is contradicted by his ascent to international recognition, with works invited for the Istanbul biennial among others.
What I found really interesting, especially in light of having recently received assessment feedback on my essay, was how driven Kiaer is by his love of critical art history. Relevant contextual engagement is essential to offer your work as contribution to current critical debate, but Kiaers passionate exploration of early 20th century and late 19th century artists and philosophers really grounds his work in a strong foundation which adds volume and form to his ‘tentative’ practice.

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Insatiable- Art, Design, New Economics and Ecology

Andrew Simms: To change the paradigm, shift or bust, as artists is our ‘responsibility to make art which provides an irresistible temptation to see the world other than how it is’

A Chelsea symposium presented by the ever-inspiring David Cross, with a line up of speakers prompted by Barbera Steveni

Speakers included:

Dr Hayley Newman who introduced us to her 2006 project MKVH which took place in Milton Keynes. It involved a bus driving around the grid-based road system of the new city, on one full tank of fuel, until the fuel ran out. This work references the grid system and it’s origins in western art, first written about by S Krauss at the turn of the century. The artist was also referring to peak oil production and the consumption of fossil fuels. The film of the work was transcribed entirely, into a screenplay.

Michael Fehr from Berlin University of the Arts. He presented the proposition of an architect, made in the 70’s, for a futuristic survival structure for humans. Need to look into details, as I have it down as Gunter Ekhart’s Tube Continuum project, but can find no record in google-land. Comprised a structure to circle the earth containing living essentials for 4 Billion people, including housing, transport and manufacture and farming. I’m quite partial to extreme solutionist fantasies, and could see myself sealed in a little apartment, looking out at the scorched earth trying to regenerate itself…. sort of.

Marina Landia, also of Berlin University of the Arts talked about her audiovisual work addressing the global financial sector.

‘Every society clings to a myth by which it lives: Ours is the myth of economic growth’ T Jackson

Another illustration/explanation underlying the problem by which banks have become too big to fail, and now operate outside capitalism, being bailed out by taxpayers.

David Cross talked about Cornford and Cross’s work The Lost Horizon. This referenced visual culture and sustainability, with an applied semiotic analysis. Our ecological debt.
I seem to reference the work of Cornford and Cross so often, I won’t say much more now, suffice to say that the more I look at their work the more I realise how bang-on they are. Love it.

The highlight for me came during the presentation by economist Andrew Simms, who encouraged us not to be intimidated by economics, or the suits who expound on the fable of capitalism and economic growth. (Growth meant to lead to maturity, which is where growth stops and is maintained at a healthy constant. See the impossible hamster for warning..)
Ironically, the shirt and suit trousers he wore did give more gravitas to what he was saying, so I failed that test, but he talked about the following:

We have 50 months left before we go past the point where a 2 degree rise in global temperature becomes more, rather than less likely.

‘It is astonishing that capitalism works on the theory that the wickedest men do the wickedest things for the greater good’ JM Keynes.

‘Because of investor expectations, we cannot make the [renewable energy production] numbers work’ Shell Oil

‘We will not sacrifice the economy for the environment’ George Osborne. Heaven help us.

Mr Plimsol revolutionised shipping at a time when it was fundamental to our economy and empire with the Plimsol line, which made shipping safer for all. How about a petrochemical or ecological plimsol line?

To change the paradigm, shift or bust, as artists is our ‘responsibility to make art which provides an irresistible temptation to see the world other than how it is’

Herbert Davy proposed the subtle and complex economics of sharing. Better not bigger.

Edward Abbey simply says ‘Joy, shipmates, joy!’

*Do not burn yourselves out*

All that is solid melts into air.

 

Rebecca Fortnum

Rebecca Fortnum
Rebecca Fortnum

Always good to see an artist talk about life in practice, but especially engaging as we are familiar with the role Rebecca has as our course leader, the amount of time she gives to that. Maintaining a vibrant artistic output too. Reminds me of my first art tutor who told us how he used to have only the bathroom in which to work. Every Sunday he’d set his alarm for 7, go in there, set up a board over the bath and paint for 4 hours before going back to bed to wake his wife. This weekly practice sustained him until they could manage more space.

Seeing how Rebecca Fortnum’s work  has evolved, beginning with the BA in Eng Lit from Oxford- brings to mind Audrey Niffenegger’s artistic practice when expressed as a novel.

  • Authenticity of the gaze
  • Contemporary British Women Artists book
  • Women’s Hour
  • Skowhegan, Maine, residency
  • Arnolfini residency
  • Visual intelligences @ Lancaster
  • Artists process
  • contradiction, physical body, paint, silence, quietness, visual/ language (can see link to death ask drawings)

Silke Dettmers

The necessity of wonder. It’s a state of mind, the impetus behind her work, and what may come of it.
Her studio has pictures on the walls. Often these are of natural disasters.
Worthing beach.
Gare montparnasse.
Wondering about them sets off trains of thought.
Her leaning house and little people.
Great example of work which is a musing on a theme, not conclusive, opens further dialogue.
Eg Casper David Friedlich’s The Wreck of Hope being an allegory of industrialisation.

Dettmer talked about having a large studio space. Despite the running costs this is essential to her, as it gives her space to pile up all the bits and pieces which she wobbles. They get laid on top of each other, gradually forming an object-based pallette to work from. I can definitely relate to that.
‘My studio is, in fact, the place where I am working’ – Damien Birem, 2006
‘The studio as terra incognita’ – Gerard Byrne

Dettmer also refers to smaller scale collections of apparently unconnected objects, such as cabinets of curiosities or random displays such as Ole Worms work. Objects placed together with no obvious connections which then go on to suggest 3rd meanings.
In her approach to work and objects, Dettmer says she needs to see them in person, to experience smells and even touch them, because the object is everything.

It’s been 5 months since I heard all this, and in that time I have moved into a new studio myself. This all seems so exactly relevant to my practice I feel a reassurance that I am on the right track. Even if my studio is rather far from cavernous. For now.
Sharing with an illustrator and a sound artist whose beautiful works emerge from beautiful clean and tidy spaces, my junkyard in the middle is an hilarious contrast. It’s mine and I love it.

Dettmer also produced the ‘All Aboard’ photographic series, in response to being evicted from her previous studio to make way for the construction of the Olympic park. This also really grabbed me for two reasons: One is that it was a real 2D departure for an object based practitioner. Second is that the photos where featured in The Guardian after she approached them. Proactive. Find your own opportunities.

Fnally ‘ there is an optimism in making visual something which otherwise did not exist- in using reclaimed materials more related to narrative of object. This is verging on nostalgia’ which is something she is keen to evolve, so that things involve a little less looking backwards…

Love it

Graduate encounters: Rosalie Schweiker

Proactively personified, Rosalie Schweiker is really inspiring, bold and passionate.

Quotes which she is inspired by include:

‘ There are 3 kinds of artists-
1. Those who have LET’S DO SOMETHING said to them.
2. Those who say LETS DO SOMETHING.
3. Those who do nothing and fade away.’
-Bob and Roberta Smith.
This perfectly sums up how I feel too. I make work for people to look at. The more things I make happen, the more people will be able to do that.

‘The white cube of the gallery is the final destination of 200 yrs of privatisation of the self’
This one is harder for me to get my head around. The fact does remain that people do still look at work in galleries, it may or may not spark a thought in them, which may go on to start a discourse elsewhere in the world. I am wondering if presenting monumental public art contributes any more or any less, rather only differently. Public art, involving more participants, happenings which have a broader direct reach is not for me. And anything which I do present outside will absolutely have to be relevant to the space. Much monumental art is, but plenty exists which isn’t.

Cubitt Gallery Visit

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Cubitt is an artist-run space and has been going for 20yrs. They were showing Walk-Through, a film by Redmond Entwistle,  examining the role of critique and discussion at Calarts based on Michael Ashar’s 1977 post-studio class, which was based on Baldessari’s post-studio theory.

Critiques used to last for hours. ‘After 10 hours of looking at and talking about someone’s work, you absorb some of their subjectivity in making the artwork’

‘What you do at art school is preparation for what you want to do after’ No kidding. I am constantly amazed by the number of student who regularly miss other people’s crits. Participating in critical engagement is surely one of the main reasons we come to art college, or is that just really naive of me.

Cubitt is an active and engaged space where the artists who work there are very much all contributing to the running of the space on all levels. Engagement. Setting a good example of professional practice.

My studiolessness


Richard Wentworth

As I wait and wait for my studio space paperwork to go through so I can finally move in, this tateshot keeps coming to mind, and I find it reassuring and inspiring. I think it might have been the combined knowledge of these words of wisdom, and the people of Louise Borgeouis created with materials she found on the streets, constructed on the roof of the building she happened to live in, which have sustained me during these months of studiolessness.


Louise Borgeouis

Silke Dettmers came to talk to us about her practice recently, and the way she described her relationship with her studio made perfect sense to me. She explained that she has a large space filled with all sorts of things, which she accumulates and observes as they lay around, as if on her palette. The combinations they make feed directly into her work.


Silke Detmers

After thinking more on the residency at Grey Area in March with these 3 examples in mind, it makes me feel really optimistic about all the things that will happen in the studio, and a hell of a lot better about this:

Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher was in conversation with the ever engaging David Cross. They share passion in the state of the world, and I loosely categorise them as Cross working to address some of the predicaments directly, and Fisher commentating and proposing possibilities for how things might develop. This alternative to the current status quo feels to me active, rather than the resigned struggle typified by the ubiquitous ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra.
Fisher was able to present his research and ideas contained in his book ‘Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative?’ in a really interesting and accessible way. When the floor was opened up for questions I was really impressed with how engaged his responses were, it felt like a conversation.

These are the notes I took during Mark Fishers’ presentation:
The debate can be framed as Fordism vs Post-Fordism, the switch from The Godfather model of control to the blown-open Heat magazine generation.
Capitalist Realism is about keeping at bay what we know about sustainable growth/development. It makes it politically impossible talk about climate change.
When Thatcher announced ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism, she meant there was none more desirable. Today we are facing an ontological shift which allows us to see another way. We no longer accept ‘that’s just the way it is and the way it has to be’
The disappearance of the political in our contemporary popular culture actually means the victory of one form over all the others. Capitalist Realism is the pathology of the left. New Labour’s world is dominated by markets and big business, ‘that’s just how it is and it has to be engaged with’.
‘Continuous professional development’ epitomises New Labour. It means that you are never finished. Just like The Trial by Kafka, we are now living with lifelong uncertainty and perpetual anxiety. Validation will never come. You could call this a form of market Stalinism.
Neo-liberalism did not in fact free is from beurocracy as we have ended up just doing it all for ourselves. ( Raw market operating needs quantifying- when this gets applied to public services then you have to create beurocracy to measure it)
Is there such a thing as synergy of political and material changes?
How did neo-liberalism win? Successful violence destroyed established structures of workers rots. This was helped by the shift in workers desires. The 1060s neo-liberalism promoted link to modernisation, but to reject is not to modernise.
-Fordism: workers exchanged boredom in return for security in the local factory. In the 1970s the fractures began, with antagonism between management and workers. Resulted the precarious position of ‘flexibility’
-Computerisation and digitalisation, which is short term.
In the 60s success was equal to Stalinist or lenin view of just getting things done, with the alternative being the ethical approach, in which nothing appears to get done. Resulted in a great IMPASSE.
Frederick Jameson offered view on the state of homogenisation. Culture becomes chronically nostalgic, a pastiche. There develops the rhetoric of high turnover and the disappearance of anything new. But capitalism can’t deliver new culture, just new technology.
Communicative Capitalism. Participation is compulsory.
capitalist Realism is the naturalisation of Post Modernism. Results in retrospection and pastiche. This are the facts of mandatory continuous precarity.
Sherrie Turkle in Alone Together wrote about modern communication and how email means we have no more set working hours. Smartphones mean we have no more restricted workplace, but the converse of that is that the workplace is everywhere.
A phrase for this is nonstop inertia. Communicative Capitalism states that phones are no longer leisure items. The libidonisation of anxiety- smartphones are tethers to the capitalist matrix. In social media time we are always late.
David Cross then talked with Fisher about ‘worker prisoners and debater addicts’. And whether post-Fordist placing may be way of recontextualising solidarity?
Fisher responded by summarisation that flexibility is a capitalist construct, plasticity has a memory but can be explosive, and elasticity is a pastiche the two.
The so-called ‘prisoner’ Fordist workers didn’t want to move into liquidity or flexibility, they wanted more structure and coordination. This comes back to centralisation vs de-centralisation.

Being stressed at work results from no longer having union stewards to go to or anyone to ask for support. We are now soley responsible for it ourselves, and therapy or medication takes the role.
Personally I find these theories of lack of support, continuous workplace and constant expectations of improvement and developing being related to mental ill-health extremely interesting.
There is a common dismissive notion that depression is a modern phenomenon, literally in our minds. Accepting it as such, but integrating current knowledge of predisposition towards mental ill health and trigger situations such as a side-effect of capitalism seems brilliant to me.
It means that just as increased incidence lung cancer is as a result of smoking, or road accidents are a result of the car, or indeed burns are a result of the harnessing of fire, we accept that living with capitalism can be bad for our health too.

Fisher finished by suggestion that our capital is in a state of ‘non-stop innertia’ driven by the property prices. UK property prices are a major source of capitalist control, in that if you are happy to work hard to keep a roof over your head, you have no every left to make something or think about things. Logical.

Extract of talk by Mark Fisher

Being stressed at work results from no longer having union stewards to go to or anyone to ask for support. We are now soley responsible for it ourselves, and therapy or medication takes the role.
Personally I find these theories of lack of support, continuous workplace and constant expectations of improvement and developing being related to mental ill-health extremely interesting.
There is a common dismissive notion that depression is a modern phenomenon, literally in our minds. Accepting it as such, but integrating current knowledge of predisposition towards mental ill health and trigger situations such as a side-effect of capitalism seems brilliant to me.
It means that just as increased incidence lung cancer is as a result of smoking, or road accidents are a result of the car, or indeed burns are a result of the harnessing of fire, we accept that living with capitalism can be bad for our health too.